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Look into easements before buying property

Thinking of buying some property and assuming you'll have 100 percent control over it once you own it? Thanks to easements, this is not always the case.

An easement doesn't take away your ownership, but it does mean that someone else has the right to do certain things on your land, with or without your permission. When you see the title for the property, the easement should be listed, so always check first. You can remove it, but only if the other party agrees. If not, it has to stay, so that should factor into your purchase decision.

Easements don't allow people to do whatever they want on your land. They have to stick to the actions that are specified.

For example, if your property blocks your neighbor's property from the road, that neighbor may have an easement allowing him or her to use a driveway on your land to access the road. Your neighbor can't build anything or use the road in any other way, but can drive on it at will.

Another example is when a utility provider has an easement because your property has buried lines. For instance, if there is an electrical line buried in your front yard that supplies power to the rest of the grid by your house, the electric company can arrive and dig up your hard if the line needs to be replaced or repaired.

If not having full control over your land is a big deal to you, you certainly don't want to buy without understanding how the setup works. You may also need to know how to legally have the easement removed, which, as noted above, is sometimes possible.

Source: Zillow, "What You Should Know About Easements and Rights-of-Way," Brendon DeSimone, accessed Oct. 25, 2016

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